Medical Parole Denial Upheld in 1984 Arson

Julie Manganis

The Salem News, Beverly, Mass.


Sep. 16—BEVERLY — The commissioner of the Department of Corrections said in a decision late last month that video of a confrontation and struggle between James Carver and correctional officers last year does not change her mind as to whether he should be medically paroled.

Carver, 57, is serving concurrent life terms for the deaths of 15 people in the July 1984 Elliott Chambers rooming house fire.

Last year Carver, who now uses a wheelchair and suffers from several medical conditions, applied for medical parole.

epartment of Corrections Commissioner Carol Mici denied the request, finding that Carver does not meet the criteria for release and that he still poses a risk to public safety.

Carver and his lawyer, Sharon Sullivan-Puccini, appealed that decision in Salem Superior Court. Sullivan-Pucchini also subsequently obtained video of the confrontation, which, she argued, shows Carver’s level of debilitation and contradicted accounts of corrections officers.

In July, Judge Janice Howe ordered Mici to look at the video.

But after viewing that video, Mici again concluded that Carver does not qualify for medical parole.

Among the requirements of medical parole are that a defendant be terminally ill, and that he or she no longer poses a danger.

Mici, and the Essex District Attorney’s office, which also viewed the video, said it shows that Carver is still potentially dangerous.

While Carver uses a wheelchair, Mici said, it is because of balance issues. And, Mici wrote, Carver is able to shower, dress and perform other personal care tasks on his own.

Mici noted the facts of the case in her decision as well.

Carver was convicted in 1989 of 15 counts of manslaughter for the fire, which prosecutors alleged he had set out of jealousy that his former girlfriend was dating a resident of the building. The victims included a 9-year-old boy visiting his grandmother.

“In his current physical condition, Mr. Carver is certainly still capable of committing a serious crime,” Mici wrote.

Carver has continued to maintain his innocence in the fire, pursuing multiple appeals since his 1989 conviction. Because his convictions were for second-degree murder, he is currently eligible to seek traditional parole, but has chosen not to do so.

Most parole boards typically expect a person seeking parole to admit responsibility, something Carver has not done.

That ongoing stance has also been cited by the district attorney’s office in its opposition to medical parole.

Sullivan-Pucchini said she was not prepared Wednesday to comment on the ruling.

She and attorneys for the Department of Corrections are scheduled to be back in court on Oct. 8.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis


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